During the pandemic, new irrigation systems were developed to replace the flood irrigation system in more than 237,000 acres so far.
By Rawnaa Almasry
Arab governments imposed a partial closure as one of the precautionary measures to confront the Covid-19 pandemic during its first wave and its aftermath, which led to a lack of production in many sectors and placed the agricultural sector between adherence to precautionary rules and an attempt to continue agricultural production.
With the successive waves of the pandemic, immigrant temporary workers stopped, wild weather fluctuations escalated due to the effects of climate change, the difficulty of providing water for irrigation increased, and various agricultural transactions declined, but agriculture remained one of the most important ways to confront the pandemic: It is the source of obtaining the food necessary for the continuation of life.
It seems that climate change, a lack of water and manpower formed the sides of the triangle of challenges facing the agricultural sector during the pandemic, and in Egypt, one of the largest agricultural countries in the Arab region, it required solutions in the short and long term.
As for climate change challenges and their impact on agriculture during the first pandemic period, Mohamed Fahim, head of the Central Laboratory for Agricultural Climate Information, explained : “The plants can be compared to a patient who has recovered from unbridled climate fluctuations, which requires close care. Therefore, (flooding irrigation) as a method of irrigation is not appropriate with climate challenges, whereas the developed methods succeed in speeding up agricultural intervention to rescue plants that may suddenly suffer from fluctuations in the weather, according to the guidelines and recommendations of the continuous monitoring carried out by the Central Laboratory for Agricultural Climate Change Information.”
In an attempt to overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic, farmers have adopted some innovative solutions to meet the short duration of daily work and the increasing demand for crops.
We find that one of the farms producing dates and some other crops in Minya Governorate, south of the valley, has provided accommodation for permanent workers and some temporary workers from neighboring villages inside the farm to abide by the precautionary closure, and prevent expatriate workers from other governorates or distant cities. Ibrahim Mohamed Ali, general manager of the farm, explains how working times were distributed to existing workers with the rearranging of dates of agricultural operations to suit the times available for workers. Mobile centers were also provided for medical examination, and places were designated to isolate and treat positive cases.
This article was produced by SciDev.Net’s MENA regional office, in partnership with InfoNile with funding from IHE-Delft Water and Development Partnership Programme.The story was first published on Scidev.net.